Anger at cellphone Amber Alerts that rouse people from their sleep is misplaced and shows the need for more public education, observers said on Tuesday.
People need to understand that the emergency alerts are only issued when police need help in finding a child they believe is in grave peril — usually the result of an abduction, they said.
Ken McBey, a professor at York University who specializes in social and behavioural elements in emergencies, said those who light up 911 to complain about the alerts are being "incredibly selfish."
"It's just one of those trade-offs: It's a matter of balancing off individual interests for what's best for society," McBey said.
"Part of this is actually shaping perceptions. To a certain degree, emergency authorities have a sales job to do. They haven't done it as well as they could have."
So...does a person's right to peaceful and quiet slumber end when a mother neglects to return her child to her grandmother at the specified time? And the bigger question, what obligation and responsibility do we have as individuals within society to invest in what is subjectively deemed to be an emergent situation (ie. weather emergencies, etc.)?
I'm of two minds on this matter. On one hand, there's no doubt that the safety of kids are important, and amber alerts are a useful tool to keeping kids safe. On the other hand, all of these "emergency alerts" that we're getting on our cell phones...not just amber alerts, but weather alerts, public safety announcements, and most annoyingly, testing of the alert system (false alarms)... seem to be excessively and increasingly intrusive into people's lives.
We are progressively losing our right to privacy, and it seems also our right to decide what we deem as something that rises to the classification of an emergency (amber alerts aside.) News, media, weather forecasts...reporting of everything is becoming increasingly hysterical, which seems to demand an increasingly hysterical public responses.
There was a time when people had the capacity to analyze and respond accordingly to events that unfolded before them, and were given the respect from the powers-that-be to act on their determined response. People were given the choice whether or not they felt like they should buy into proposed hysteria. Not any more, now we have cell phones that make ungodly screeching siren sounds at all hours any time someone in control of the "button" deems an event of sufficient importance. The ability to rationally analyze the significance of events has been taken away from people, and has been handed to someone of authority within " the ministry”'.
In this instance of an amber alert, it makes sense that people need to be notified. But it still doesn't sit right that the powers-that-be take complete control over my cell phone whenever they deem necessary to alert me with a shrill, jarring alert that would wake up the dead. The fact that someone would put their sleep ahead of a child's safety is an easy thing to condemn someone of, but that argument when broken down seems lazy and irresponsible as well. What about highway safety? I've been driving when this alert system has been tested, it's incredibly distracting and startling. Actually scares the crap out of a person if they're not ready for it. Is this safe practice when people are driving through the city trying to keep their attention on the traffic ahead? What about the person who just worked a long shift and has to work another shift shortly and needs their sleep to do their work safely?
It also needs to be considered that it’s not (yet) against the law to turn off your phone or be away from it. Are these people acting irresponsible as well? Are they neglecting their communal responsibility by not being attentive to potential warnings or amber alerts? Or is this just an awkward transition period while we all wait for the day when implanted communication devices become the law?
At what point does our societal responsibility to invest in subjective hysteria end, and our right to personal space and freedom begin? Is more "pubic education" the answer, or have we reached the saturation point of so called experts "educating" us on how we should think and act?